202nd Engineering Installation Squadron honors Guard members, families during ceremony

  • Published
  • By Capt. Pamela Stauffer
  • 116th ACW PA
More than 50 Georgia Air National Guard members and families from the 202nd EIS were honored on Jul. 13 for their accomplishments, heroism and sacrifice during a ceremony at the Coats Hall.

Maj. Gen. Thomas Moore, commander of the Georgia Air National Guard, presided over the event which included an awards presentation of the Bronze Star, the Air Force and Army Commendation medals, and the Air Force Achievement Medal. Immediately following the presentation was the Hometown Heroes Salute ceremony.

"It is always a happy occasion to welcome our people home to their families," said Moore. "Favorable recognition has been brought to the Georgia Air National Guard through the meritorious performance of the four individuals receiving the Bronze Star."

Senior Master Sgts. Mark Buchanan, cyberspace systems integrator, and George Kight, superintendent of logistics plans and programs, Master Sgt. Jason Gardner, ground safety manager, and Major Will Jacobs, officer in charge of the electronics section, were awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service during contingency operations since 2010.

Buchanan has spent 30 years in the military and has deployed three times.

According to Buchanan, his previous deployment was the most difficult because he forward deployed to an area where a terrorist brought an explosive device to the front gate of the base, 800 meters away from where Buchanan was located.

A forward deployment requires a deployed person to move from their first deployed location to a second location; often to an undisclosed area.

"For 30 years, my family have made personal sacrifices and been there to continuously encourage me as I met the challenges of my duties," said Buchanan. "My wife understands the special circumstances of being in the military and also extends support to military families from Robins Air Force Base who reside within multiple housing communities."

Lt. Col. Fred Walker, now the commander of the 202nd, was awarded the Bronze Star from his 2011 deployment.

"My daughter was set to get married in the middle of my deployment so we moved up the wedding date." said Walker. "You can imagine the family's reaction when we moved the date but couldn't tell them why because of the security of the deployment."

The 202nd EIS has a total of eight Bronze Star recipients within their squadron; 50 percent of the recipients are in the enlisted core.

"There is nothing but pride and honor for the men and women who've served with such distinction and met the challenges head on," said Walker.

As the Bronze Star recipients left the stage, more than 50 Airmen lined up to be recognized by Moore, Walker, and Chief Master Sgt. Joe Greene, state command chief of the Georgia Department of Defense.

Hometown Heroes Salute award recipients and their families were recognized for their support of contingency operations for more than 180 consecutive days across the globe.

"Hometown Heroes is what the National Guard is all about," said Moore. "I'm so proud of all of the people who deployed and I'm grateful to the families who support them."

Family members, colleagues and friends watched their honoree grin as they crossed the stage at Coats Hall.

"These events take so much effort to put together, but when I see the smile on a child's face when their parent walks across the stage, it makes the hard work worth it." said Senior Master Sgt. Robert Dalton, superintendent of the 202nd EIS.